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Why Sovereign Wealth Funds Love Real Estate

Despite Norway’s sovereign wealth fund having a hard time finding suitable properties in Tokyo and in other core Asian cities, sovereign investors in the aggregate have steadily put capital to work in real estate. Even micro sovereign funds like the one owned by the Republic of Nauru, has ownership in Houston office real estate.

The low-yield environment has been a defining factor on why sovereign funds invest directly into real estate or property funds. The decade-long subtle manipulation of interest rates to stave off a global depression has forced cash-rich sovereign funds to park money into these concrete towers in central business districts. These mega institutional investors, some smaller in assets, continue to seek out experienced real estate partners to deposit their capital in niche deals. Whether its Gulf funds like the Qatar Investment Authority involved with the Empire State Building or Hudson Yards, or the Norway Government Pension Fund Global’s all-encompassing European logistics partnership, the demand for suitable institutional real estate in developed market appears to remain valid.

According to data from the Sovereign Wealth Fund Transaction Database, which tracks direct transactions made by sovereign funds, pensions and other public funds, wealth funds directly invested a staggering US$ 31.2 billion into the real estate sector versus US$ 12.3 billion in 2011. This stark contrast demonstrates three important points. First, more wealth funds are going direct or participating in co-investments. This means sovereign investors are seeking partners whether they are real estate firms, developers, pensions, life insurance companies, real estate investment trusts or wealthy family offices. For example, the GIC had formed a joint venture with affiliates of Boston-based Beacon Capital Partners, LLC to swoop up a portfolio of Washington D.C. metro properties that included the Lafayette Center complex.

California Love

Sovereign wealth is attracted to the Golden State over its diverse terrain, demographics, entertainment industry and being a global hub for innovation (San Francisco Bay Area). The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) has been aggressive in wanting to invest in California institutional real estate. The QIA wanted to outright acquire a portfolio of offices owned by The Blackstone Group, in which the private equity firm became the owner in part of its 2007 acquisition of Equity Office Properties Trust. The QIA ended up partnering with Douglas Emmett, Inc., a real estate investment trust, to acquire these office properties once they hit the market such as 12100 Wilshire Boulevard, 233 Wilshire Boulevard and 1299 Ocean Avenue.

Going into 2017, it appears wealth funds continue to seek out high-quality real estate assets to help diversify their portfolios.

Student Housing and the Resiliency of the Education Sector

Hotels and resorts can be corrosive investments in downward economies, while the U.S. education sector has been resilient, even during the global financial crisis back in 2008. Some sovereign funds have found success in student housing. GIC Private Limited has constructed a portfolio of student housing in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, betting on ever-growing education sector. In March 2017, the GIC entered into a venture with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and The Scion Group LLC, to invest and oversee a massive portfolio of student housing assets in the United States. The GIC also has a U.K. student housing venture with Unite Group Plc.

Going into 2017, it appears wealth funds continue to seek out high-quality real estate assets to help diversify their portfolios. The excessive demand from sovereign wealth funds and other real estate players have caused many pensions and real estate private equity shops to be net sellers so far in 2017. This recycling of capital has been a boon for real estate investment firms.

SWFI First Read, November 19, 2017

Mubadala Petroleum Sees Opportunities in Mexican Upstream and Downstream

Mubadala Petroleum, a unit of Mubadala Investment Company, is studying investment opportunities in Mexico. The opportunity set is both in upstream in oil production, or in downstream sectors. Mubadala recently invested heavily in the Gulf coast.

OMERS-Backed CEDA International Corporation Acquires Joe Loomis Trucking

In 2005, Borealis Infrastructure, a unit of OMERS, had acquired CEDA International Corporation (then known as CEDA Holdings Limited) from Precision Drilling Corporation for C$ 274 million. CEDA International Corporation was moved into the portfolio holdings of OMERS Private Equity, another unit of OMERS. On November 16, 2017, CEDA International Corporation acquired Dawson Creek, British Columbia-based Joe Loomis Trucking Limited.

IMF Believes Kuwait Government Needs $100 Billion Over Next 5 Years for Gross Financing Needs

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Ontario Teachers’ Takes to the Seas with Atlantic Aqua Farms Acquisition

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) has made its first investment in the rising aquaculture industry with the acquisition of Orwell Cove-based Atlantic Aqua Farms, Inc. (AAF) and its affiliated entities from San Francisco-based private equity firm Encore Consumer Capital, through its Encore Consumer Capital Fund L.P., for an undisclosed amount. Estimates of the deal’s value, however, place it at over C$ 100 million. Encore Consumer Capital put AAF for sale back in March 2017.

Based out of Canada’s Prince Edward Island, AAF is the largest grower and processor of the region’s famed blue mussels under the brand names Canadian Cove, Confederation Cove, and J.P.’s shellfish. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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UAE Prepares ADNOC Distribution IPO

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) embarked on plans to sell a minority stake of 10% or more in its fuel distribution unit in an initial public offering on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) scheduled for December of 2017. ADNOC Distribution is the largest fuel distributor in the United Arab Emirates with 67% of the market share by number of retail service stations and benefits from a “stable and predictable” market-pricing regime, according to a company statement.

The offering will consist entirely of existing stock held by ADNOC. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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